things my parents did (and didn't do)

things my parents did (and didn't do) 1I had a happy childhood.

When I look back, I remember hearing my mom's golden voice as she strummed her guitar. I remember setting up lemonade stands, bike riding in the alley, and making forts on bunkbeds. I remember climbing up on the roof of our house to watch the stars and spending summers with sand in between my toes.

I'm glad my parents...

  • gave birth to me at home.
  • breastfed me for the first year(s) of life.
  • homeschooled me through 8th grade.
  • chose not to own a television for most of my childhood.
  • took me to the library once a week for as long as I can remember.
  • nurtured my love of writing.
  • drove me around to volunteer projects every summer of middle school.
  • didn't buy me everything I ever wanted.
  • sent me to a private high school.
  • allowed me to go to Bangladesh when I was 15.
  • said NO when that one foreign exchange student asked me out at McDonalds.
  • said YES when I announced I was dating a certain green-eyed soccer player with a charming smile.
  • encouraged me to work part-time from an early age...and to go to college.
  • are still married...41 years this June.

I wish my parents had...

  • not spanked.
  • kept the television off more in my teen years.
  • talked about sex more openly and with less embarrassment.
  • given me a pager or cell phone as early as technology would have allowed (and had one of their own to communicate with me).
  • taken more photographs - of me, of my friends, of my favorite things.
  • taken more photographs - of themselves.

I am so very grateful for my parents. So much of who I am today is because of their influence and their sacrifice.

Love you, Dad & Mom.

* I wonder what my kids will say about me. I hope that they will remember a happy childhood too.

What are you glad that your parents did? What do you wish that your parents did differently?

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31 comments on “things my parents did (and didn't do)”

  1. Overall my parents are/were awesome. I do wish they had homeschooled from the beginning and that my mom had stayed at home from the beginning as well. But, I'm glad they made both of those decisions later and are so very encouraging of me for making them now with my own kids.

  2. Love, love, LOVE that you posted this! I've thought about it so much as well! Like you, I wish there was more open talk about sex and without embarrassment. AND,I wish "I love you" was said more often. Don't get me wrong, I knew my parents loved me, but it was always through actions. Hardly ever shown verbally. I think for a child to hear that more often has a huge impact on their upbringing!! Great post!

  3. This is a good, honest post, Stephanie! What great parents you have!!
    I have great parents too. I am SO grateful for them.
    The list is too long for a comment. :) But, you are very right about evaluating being an important part of making decisions as we parent our own kids.

  4. Reading the first list I think it is great that your parents were doing so many things that weren't so popular then. Homeschooling and home births had really gone to the minority during this time and even breastfeeding for that matter. All have really been making a come back now, but to have parents who did it must be great. I am sure they are a great resource for you when thinking of homeschooling your girls.

    My parents are great thinking about the list I wish my parents had lived more naturally and eaten healthier. But you have got me thinking now what the rest of my list would like and what I want to Jake's list to look like when he is older and reflects his parents.

    1. You're right. My parents did a lot of things that were counterculture. I'm so grateful that they were brave enough to do what was best for us - despite popular opinion.

  5. I love this post! We think about the examples our parents set often. While they weren't perfect (they were human!) I'd say they were great parents and if we do as well as they did, I'll be happy!

    For the things they did do, the foremost is the priority they placed on family time, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I enjoy a very close relationship with my cousins to this day. Secondly, my parents are both educators and they instilled a great love of learning in my sister and me. We both wanted to go to college and post-grad school. I never want to stop learning. Also, they sent us to public school from Kindergarten on, and I am very grateful for my experiences there. Third, my parents bought me everything I needed (but not everything I wanted) and paid for my college education so I didn't need to work throughout high school. I'm really glad I was able to focus on my studies and graduate debt-free. Lastly, my parents have been married almost 40 years and they have set a great example for our marriage.

    There are two major things that I am trying to do differently. One is how they expected my sister and I to treat each other. We are 23 months apart, and when we'd get into the normal sister squabbles, they would step in and say that we shouldn't fight, rather than letting us work things out on our own. I felt like I was never allowed to say when something bothered me for fear of starting a fight. Second, my mom has major insecurities with her body, and she passed those onto me.

  6. So do i !! we take so much of the good in our childhood and try to give it to our kids !! its kinda scary what we might me doing wrong :)

  7. It's so interesting how much our perspectives change over the years, right? If asked fifteen years ago, I'd venture to guess your list would be a bit different. I can see, though, how many of those practices built the foundation of who you are today. And while I'm sure they had their faults, I'd commend your parents for raising a thoughtful, intentional, spiritual and--possibly above all--kind daughter.

    PS. Something tells me your children will have plenty of happy memories of their mom and dad!

  8. Oh what a great post! My parents are/were wonderful. I'm thankful that they traveled often with us and to many great places. I'm thankful that they didn't spoil us too much, despite that they had the means and many of our friends/neighbors were spoiled very much. I'm thankful that we often volunteered (mostly my mom). I'm thankful that they taught me to save money (although a good part of that is personality I think). I'm thankful that we ate dinner together every single night. I'm thankful that my mom breastfed for a year. I'm thankful we had rules. I'm thankful that my parents are still married. I'm thankful they raised us with a religion and faith. I wish they had been a little more lenient in high school (they definitely loosened up for my sisters). I was a good kid and mostly just wanted to stay out a little bit later or go out more often with my friends. While my parents did take a good amount of pictures, I still wish there were more. I'm sure that desire comes from living in the digital age. I wish they had encouraged a better bond among my sisters and I.

    1. I think part of the reason that my parents didn't take very many pictures is because it was expensive in that time period. The only option was to use a film camera and then have the film developed - which is much pricier than taking hundreds pictures and then picking-and-choosing which ones you want to print (like we do now).

  9. What a great post. I am so thankful that my parents were so involved in all of my activities WHILE working full time. My mom was the girl-scout leader and my dad was the soccer and basketball coach. I don't know how they made it to everything that my sister and I were doing. They were ALWAYS there. I am also thankful that they always showed their love for one another. I grew up KNOWING that my parents loved each other by the way that they held hands and laughed. I knew that I could find that too which is why I didn't settle....and married a wonderful man :)

  10. Another thoughtful post! I am thankful for my parents, too. They tried hard and did many things so well. I wish they had focused lees on the importance of "success" - I try hard to let my girls know that there are so many different ways to be a successful person and contributor to society. While we have to earn a living, it doesn't all have to be about career. I wish they had spoken openly about feelings, love, relationships. But I know this was part of their generation and I'm trying not to make it part of mine.

  11. I wish my parents would have created more community. We ate dinner as a family every night, but we never hung out with family friends on a regular basis, nor did we have "family game nights"...

    I am super thankful my parents were not into gift giving, but rather experiential giving...for holidays we would do something together (go to a musical, or even europe one year) instead of getting gifts.

    1. My parents were the same way! I think they were so concentrated on our family (I have 5 siblings!) that we didn't hang out with other families much.

      I LOVE experiential gifts - they're my favorite!

  12. I blog about the many things that I have loved about my mom and dad often because like you, I agree, I have AMAZING parents!

    With that said, here are few likes & dislikes, just to join in the convo!

    LOVES

    They emphasized ACTIVE learning, like looking it up in the dictionary and not just telling us how to spell it without making an effort to hear and sound things out OR repetitively repeating my multiplication tables OR focusing on the importance of higher learning - college/master's/etc.

    They taught us how to love people of all colors, cultures, and stations....treating ALL THE SAME...like Jesus.

    They raised us to be strong and independent, confident women believing we could do anything.

    WISHES

    I wish that my dad had been more a verbally, affectionate encourager...not just communicating emotions via my mom or in silent ways.

    I wish that my mom had pushed me to take ballet classes as a toddler because I wanted to SO desperately {It was my 2 year old dream that I finally realized about 22 years later} but I thought the teacher was mean and I was scared OR that they had found another avenue at that young age for me to learn (although options WERE very limited in Haiti, of course).

    Overall, though, they are pretty much DA BOMB!

  13. I am grateful to my parents that they cooked every single meal from scratch. My mom never made a cake from the box in her life.

    Also, I was thinking about your article you included in your Tuesday Tour about sugar. I an greatful that my parents treated sugar as such and taught me the same. We had deserts only on our Birthdays and holidays.

    1. I like that your mom cooked everything from scratch. Did you cook alongside her as a child? I bet she taught you lots of great kitchen tricks and skills.

  14. I'm sure the list could be endless (for both things I wish they would have done and the things they did), but I am glad that my parents were (are) missionaries and that I was born and raised (until jr. high) in a foreign country. I got to learn and love another culture. And being missionaries, I was engulfed in church and ministry and it was great! I see a lot of sacrifices my parents did for us and for our education, and I am grateful. I loved that we traveled all around the USA, even if we had to stay at KOA's at times!

    I wish they hadn't yelled so much...at me, at my brother or at each other.

    Like I said, the list could go on, but those are the top things.

  15. I am grateful for a mother who put me first when she found herself divorced with a small child under 2.
    I am grateful she didn't give up on love and found my step father a few years later.
    I am grateful for a wonderful man who loved me as his own - no doubts ever.
    I am grateful my parents spent a large volume of time with me and my younger siblings, individually and as a family.
    I am grateful for the hard work it took (and two full time jobs) to support us.
    I am grateful my step father got up very early every morning to go to work in order to be home to get us off the school bus.

    I wish my mother had been a bit more social for herself (her family was/is her life.)
    I wish my step father hadn't been a smoker - maybe then we would have lost him to cancer so young.
    I wish that the communication between my mother and I in my early teen years had been better (but you learn so much with your oldest and we have had a fantastic relationship from about 17 on.)
    I wish there were more pictures of the everyday stuff - I miss my step father very much and pictures make it easier to remember.

    1. Your comment about wishing your mom were more social reminded me how important it is for parents to keep friendships alive!

  16. Hi! I'm a new reader. I really like your blog! What an interesting post, I think about this all the time. If you don't mind, I might use your idea and talk about this on my blog. Thank you for the inspiration! I'll give you credit for the inspiration, of course.
    (I started to write this comment and then it got too long.)
    I'll focus on talking about something my parents did GREAT! My parents said wonderful things about me when they spoke to each other. This made the compliments so much sincere. Like, I was in my room and I could hear my parents saying wonderful things about me to each other. And agreeing with each other. I think that the confidence that I have (I'm not confident all the time, but I do feel confident in many situations) comes from that.
    I grew up in Mexico and homeschooling was more considered for lower income people. Actually, the people who were very poor and needed their children to work to make money. So, homeschooling for my family was out of the question. BUT I always thought that my dad knew more than the teachers at my school. I went to a private school and even at a young age, I could tell that my dad knew more than any teacher there. Even though my dad didn't go to college.
    I wish my dad would have homeschooled me. It would have been so great to spend more time with him.
    Yes, my comment was going to be longer than this, can you believe that???

    1. Of course! You're welcome to use this topic as inspiration for a post on your blog. Please let me know if you do - I'd love to read it!

      I really like that your parents gave out compliments so freely. I aspire to do the same thing with our girls - both directly to them AND when they are within earshot. ;)

  17. This is a great post - good for making you think, analyze and strive to improve.

    Some of the things I wish would have drastically changed my life - simply because growing up would have been different. For example I wish my birth-mother had not neglected me and been unfaithful to my father and that she and Daddy would have stayed married - but since they divorced when I was just 3 that would have drastically changed my life. Then if that had not occurred I wish that my Dad had stayed single until I was grown - however, I love my stepmother and my half-sisters so wishing that wishes them away and I don't like to do that either. But when I think about my Dad and my step-mother there are so many things I wish had been different - primarily I wish that I had not been such a source of contention in the house, but giving the dynamics there is no way around that one, I wish that my step-mom would have listened to all those people who told her I was "normal" and that my behavior was "typical" and that she could have seen and believed that long before I hit my 18th birthday, when my first half-sister was 10 - and was acting all the same ways I had acted all those years earlier. As a child I was molested, pushed aside, told to be quiet, and was unwanted by most; as a teenager I attempted suicide, ran away, was falsely accused to cover another person's transgression, was overlooked by those I most craved recognition from and was stalked. But through it all I learned to find love and acceptance from the only one who truly gives it unconditionally and I learned from my Daddy that I really was worth fighting for. Those things that happen when you are a child and a teenager really do shape you as a person - I wonder how different I would be if I had been given an easy road to walk in those younger years.

    Long story short - since I passed the threshold from childhood to adulthood I haven't looked back - I won't say that my childhood was "bad" because I know others who had it worse, but it certainly wasn't something I look back on with a bucketful of fond memories - there are a few good memories, for that I'm thankful. As an adult I have a wealth of experiences to draw upon and I'm thankful for that too. I've overcome much and am blessed beyond measure. My faith is unshakable. I'm very vulnerable, hurt easily and struggle with feeling "good enough" but I can see another's pain, I have compassion, I understand people's perspective easier, I'm not afraid of change, I'm flexible. I truly believe that "all things work together for the good to those that love God and who are called according to his purpose."

  18. My parents did not homeschool, I am not sure if they even new it was an option or if they would have wanted to.....but as I look back I am amazed by all the opportunities I had to follow my interests. I had books - tons and tons of books. I had every art/craft material I could want for. I have the outdoors - lots of it. I was outside on weekends and summer days as soon as my friends knocked on the door. We build forts in the park, rode bikes on the paths and played on the playground until dark. I had freedom to explore within a well known set of boundaries. I am grateful and I have made every effort to give my children the same.

  19. Thanks for your nice tweet about Ingles Markets...I checked out your blog because of that and love it....I posted your url on our Ingles Markets Facebook page!

  20. I too am so thankful for so much of how my parents raised me. There are a few things that I wish were different, but really who could say that's not the truth.

    But I must ask. Do you think that them spanking you really harmed you or made you into something that you are not happy being? I ask only because I feel like it is such a strong point you are trying to make. (I have read about this topic a few times on your blog)

    Many in the Christ following community spank. And while I am not saying we do one thing or the other I believe that spanking, if done in love and with Christ's leading, can have a proper place in a home. I do believe though that each child should be disciplined according to their own needs. Do you possibly feel that other forms of discipline should have been tried before spanking was used in your parents home?

    1. That's a great question, Janelle! Thank you for asking it.

      I am certainly not "harmed" indefinitely because I was spanked. My parents could have done far worse things. For example, they could have let me run wild without any boundaries. They could have cut me down verbally. They could have neglected to offer me love and a listening ear. But they actually did the opposite of all those things. I have great parents!

      That said, I do think that spanking is a fear-based discipline strategy. Children are afraid of receiving a spanking (aka physical pain) thus they behave a certain way. I would rather have been taught to obey out of love and out of an understanding of how my actions affected those around me.

      Also, I should point out that I actually wasn't spanked very frequently or very forcefully. Again, my parents are wonderful and imperfect (just as ALL parents are) (including ME).

  21. how timely. I have just been struggling with this topic... I have wonderful amazing parents... but I have found, rather suddenly, that some of the things they did and didn't do are really coming back to haunt me. NOT that it's anything terrible... I am glad my parents taught me how to save and manage money. But I wish they had taken some of my "hobbies" seriously and encouraged me to explore them more. That kind of thing. It's just something I've been struggling with lately - trying to not "blame" them and just remember that I have really good parents despite what I wish would or would not have been done. :)

    1. I like to reflect on this topic because it reminds me (a) how grateful I am for my parents and (b) how I want to be as a parent.

      If we don't reflect/analyze/critique, it's hard to grow. Wouldn't you agree?

      While writing this post, I kept asking myself: "What will my kids say about me? What can I do better? Which faults do I need to chisel away at?" I'm a work-in-progress...thankful for God's grace.

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